Diego Rivera Learning Complex

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School History

The Communication and Technology School within the Diego Rivera Learning complex, opened
September 7, 2011. A result of overcrowding, and a desire to improve the educational needs of
students in underserved communities, Diego Rivera is the first comprehensive secondary high
school built in the South Central area in 44 years. The school relieved overcrowding for
Fremont High School, which at one time enrolled 4,000 to 5,000 students on a year-round
schedule. The data indicates that students matriculating to Diego Rivera during its first years of
operation have experienced a high dropout rate and low academic achievement. Successful
students have enrolled in competing charter schools or LAUSD magnets school of choice. This
initial influx of high numbers of low performing students has slowed due to effective recruitment
of students through the districts new Zone of Choice enrollment process. The Zone of Choice
gives families the opportunities to choose from a variety of High Schools in their region. The
Freemont zone of choice include, the Diego Rivera schools, Freemont High School, and
Dymally.

The academic and operational plans of the Diego Rivera campus are based on the small Pilot
School model with four schools sharing one campus: Public Service Community School,
Communication and Technology School (CATS), Green Design School, and Performing Arts
School. As part of Public School Choice, teachers submitted plans to the district and the PSO
organization that outlined the foundation of the schools currently present on the Diego Rivera
campus. These plans were intended to serve as guiding principles for the schools. Due to
changes in leadership at the district level and disagreements on plan implementation original
teacher teams whose proposals received approval did not become founding members of the
schools. This has had an impact on the level of buy-in and original plan implementation by
teachers at the sites. This also led to the Diego Rivera campus being treated as a comprehensive
school during its first two years of existence. Themes were not clearly defined and students were
allowed to take courses from all of the schools on the campus. Over the last two years under the
leadership of the Intensive Support and Innovation Center (ISIC), a service center within
LAUSD, the schools were asked to create clear themed pathways in order to fulfill the intentions
laid out in the schools’ original plans. This has led to a decrease of pass-porting students
between schools, as well as more theme-based class offerings within small schools.

Each school opened with grades 9 through 11, and accommodated between 450 to 550 students,
grades 9 through 12. The faculty of each school consists of one principal, one counselor,
approximately 14 teachers, and one office technician. The schools share the following positions:
1 School Psychologist, 1 Nurse, and 1 Librarian, 1 College Advisor, 2 School Police Officers, 1
Foster Youth Counselor and 1 School Administrative Assistant. A Site Operations Assistant
Principal oversees the day-to- day operations of the school; which include; discipline, facilities,
and athletics. Four campus aides, and two School Police officers work with the Operations
Assistant Principal in the areas of school safety.
 
CATS currently consists of one principal, an assistant principal, one counselor, intervention
coordinator, one community representative, one community schools coordinator, one
instructional coach, one office technician, one campus aide, 5 teacher assistants, 3 day
psychiatric social worker, 3 day pupil services attendance counselor, eighteen teachers and four
special education teachers. Currently, CATS serves 541 students, a growth of 237 students since
its 2011 inception.
 
CATS operates under the Pilot School Organization (PSO) within the Los Angeles Unified
School District. Through a memorandum of understanding, the four pilot schools on the Diego
Rivera campus have the following autonomies.

1. Staffing: Pilot schools have the freedom to hire and excess their staff in order to create a
unified school community (the one area of staffing that Pilots are still subject to the
contract is that in times of layoff they are subject to bumping by seniority). This
includes:

Deciding on staffing patterns which best meet the academic, social, and emotional
needs of students

Hiring staff that best fit the needs of the school, regardless of their current status
(member of the district or not, although every teacher hired becomes a member of the
local teachers union)

Every Pilot School must have in place an “Elect to Work Agreement” (EWA),
outlining work conditions at the school and approved by two-thirds of the certificated
staff. EWA should identify timelines for transfers and hiring so as to allow teachers
not staying at the school ample opportunity to make an informed decision should they
opt to transfer to another school within the district. Pilot School teachers maintain the
same transfer rights as any other teacher in the district.

The principal is responsible for evaluating staff and ensuring that they receive proper
assistance in their annual EWA, any additional teachers evaluation measures that staff
agrees will enhance their school’s performance.

2. Budget: Most Pilot schools have a lump sum per pupil budget in which the school has
total discretion to spend in the manner that provides the best programs and services to
students and their families. This includes:

A lump sum per pupil budget, the sum of which is equal to other schools within that
grade span

The district has moved toward itemizing all central office costs, and allows Pilot
schools to choose to purchase identified discretionary district services, or to not
purchase them

3. Curriculum and Assessment: Pilot schools have the freedom to structure their
curriculum and assessment practices to best meet students’ learning needs. While
acknowledging that all Pilot schools are expected to administer any state- and district-
required test, these schools are given the flexibility to best determine the school-based
curriculum and assessment practices that will prepare students for state and district
assessments. This includes:

Schools are freed from local district curriculum requirements

4. Governance and Policies: Pilot schools have the freedom to create their own
governance structure that has increased decision making powers over budget approval,
principal selection and firing, and programs and policies, while being mindful of state
requirements on school councils. This includes:

The school’s governing council takes on increased governing responsibilities,
including the following: principal selection, supervision, and firing, with final
approval by the superintendent in all cases; budget approval; and setting of school
policies

The school has flexibility to be freed from all district policies, and set its own policies
that the school community feels will best help students to be successful

5. School Calendar: Pilot schools have the freedom to set longer school days and calendar
years for both students and faculty. Scheduling which allows for summer and school
year faculty planning time contributes to a more unified school community and
educational program. This includes:

Increasing planning and professional development time for faculty

Increasing learning time for students

Organizing the school schedule in ways that maximize learning time for students and
planning time for faculty